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Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics [Kindle Edition]

Ari Berman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $20.00
Kindle Price: $7.59
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Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

After the 2004 election, the Republican Party held the White House, both houses of Congress, twenty-eight governorships, and a majority of state legislatures. One-party rule, it seemed, was here to stay.

Herding Donkeys tells the improbable tale of the grassroots resurgence that transformed the Democratic Party from a lonely minority to a sizable majority. It chronicles the inside story of Howard Dean’s visionary yet deeply controversial fifty-state strategy, charting his unpredictable journey from insurgent presidential candidate, to front-running flameout, to chairman and conscience of the Democratic Party in an unexpected third act. Ari Berman reveals how the Obama campaign built upon Dean’s strategy when others ridiculed it, expanding the ranks of the party and ultimately laying the groundwork for Obama’s historic electoral victory—but also sowing the seeds of dissent that would lead to legislative stalemate and intraparty strife.

Revelatory and entertaining, in the vein of Timothy Crouse’s The Boys on the Bus and Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland, Herding Donkeys combines fresh reportage with a rich and colorful cast of characters. It captures the untold stories of the people and places that reshaped the electoral map, painting a vivid portrait of a shifting country while dissecting the possibility and peril of a new era in American politics.




Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Herding Donkeys

“The resurgence of the Democratic Party in the past two election cycles is one of the most important—and least understood—political stories of the new century. Ari Berman tells that tale with reportorial verve, a keen eye, a sharp pen, and a wealth of fresh insight. If you want to understand the grassroots revival of progressivism in America, and also the new challenges and aching disappointments that have come along with it, this is the book to read.” —John Heilemann, national political columnist for New York magazine and coauthor of Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of Lifetime

“Ari Berman has written a political narrative so revelatory and exhilarating it kept me up nights reading. Herding Donkeys is some of the freshest and incisive political reporting out there, and Berman, who has the keen eye of a novelist, is one heck of a storyteller.” —Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America

Herding Donkeys is essential to understanding how the Democratic Party came back from the dead in 2006 and 2008. But it’s especially good at explaining what happened to all of Barack Obama’s grassroots energy. This is a hopeful but also sobering tale, told with strong inside reporting.” —Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One

Herding Donkeys is political reporting at its finest. In his spirited debut, Ari Berman takes readers inside the back rooms and living rooms where politics actually happens, but his novel vantage point doesn’t prevent him from rendering the tough but fair judgments every great political reporter needs to make. This is a ripping account of the Democratic Party through an intense period of historic ...

About the Author

ARI BERMAN is a political correspondent for The Nation and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at the Nation Institute. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, and he is a frequent commentator on MSNBC and National Public Radio. He lives in New York City.


Product Details

  • File Size: 574 KB
  • Print Length: 303 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0374169705
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003SNJL6U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #551,374 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Permanent Campaign and Journey of Howard Dean October 7, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Herding Donkeys" is about the singular political journey of Howard Dean and several unknown (at least on the national level) grass roots activists in places like Boise, Waco and Western North Carolina who laid the foundation for the election of Barack Obama and many Democrats in Congress in 2006 and 2008. In some ways the story is a familier one -- feisty outsiders get fed up and plot thier way to political power even where they are outnumbered and ignored by power brokers in state capitols and, especially, Washington, DC. The book gives a sense of what made the Obama Campaign different -- because it began as a progressive movement in 2003 and 2004 when nobody outside of Chicago had ever heard of Obama.

Dean, an outsiders insider, is juxtaposed against Rahm Emmanual who plays the part of an insiders insider. The two are the Democrats' yin and yang. This book is told from Deans perspective as well as the organizers who learned campaigning and new internet tools with Dean and never stopped until Democrats took Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008. Occasionally the chronology in the book is confusing as characters such as Dean then Obama organizer Jeremy Bird bounces from New Hampshire to South Carolina to Ohio to Washington. Herding Donkeys captures much of the zeitgeist of a time that has passed and hints at what has become of the forces that propelled Obama in 2008. It's an look at what political organizers do in places like Colorado Springs and Florence, SC before the big money and big media take hold of a movement and many of the brash young organizers move to Washington to replenish the ranks of the dreaded establishment.

Berman's achievement is that he has written a new kind of campaign book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Herding Donkeys November 25, 2010
By Karen J
Format:Hardcover
Berman's analysis of the Democratic Party provides an eye-opening account of what's right and what's wrong. I found the information about organizing across the state of North Carolina (I too am a transplanted Northerner) fascinating. He gives readers an up close and personal view of how a small group of citizens can indeed make a difference within our complex and often frustrating political system.

Perhaps the best thing about Berman's approach is his use of language. This book tackles a usually dry topic in an easy to read manner. Regardless of the reader's level of participation in politics, Berman's explanations and analysis are easily understood and might even encourage readers to get involved at the local level.

Perhaps today's Democratic Party leaders should take some time to read this analysis. Who knows? They might regroup and rebuild!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's Always Hope! October 26, 2010
Format:Hardcover
As a Northerner living in South Carolina, I was intrigued by Ari Berman's book describing the transformation of red states to blue or purple. His book vividly portrays the `hidden' democrats in America's blue states. It was heartening to read how the progressive democrats began to emerge from their cocoons to support Obama. They went from a minority to a majority; a force of nature.
Behind that force of nature, however, was Howard Dean, who motivated thousands of volunteers to rally behind their candidate and stand up for Change!!

Berman's descriptions of people and places make the book a page turner. I could not wait to read what happened in Idaho, Indiana, Texas, North Carolina, Ohio and was intrigued by the 200 people he interviewed. I was also given much needed insights as to how the political system works and fails. Ultimately Howard Dean who launched a successful 50 state strategy, does not get acknowledged, nor lands a position in the new Administration.

The last part of the book describes the challenges that Obama has faced and how
his administration did not support the constituency that elected him and the consequences which may be obvious in this coming election.

However, the book is upbeat, informative, and I am looking forward to a sequel. Nice job, Berman!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW October 7, 2010
Format:Hardcover
Slate's Dave Weigel said it best--
"... Berman's book is the Howard Zinn version, the story of the people who were pushed out of the frame."
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Herding Donkeys: Rounding out the Picture February 21, 2011
Format:Hardcover
When interviewing Ari Berman for Blog for Iowa last November, I learned that his book Herding Donkeys would include a lot about Howard Dean. Having now read the book, I found it to be an important supplement to the 2008 campaign literature, especially for the insight into Howard Dean's role before and during his tenure as chair of the DNC. It rounds out a picture of the campaign created partly by David Plouffe's The Audacity to Win.

For people who participated in the election, Herding Donkeys resonates with the actuality of the campaign's on-the-ground work, so it is to some extent a trip down memory lane. We also learn about what went on in other parts of the country. The passage on Colorado's El Paso county was particularly engaging.

This volume would read well along with Joe Trippi's The Revolution Will Not be Televised and David Plouffe's The Audacity to Win, which I recommend. Add in the video First Stop Iowa and a person would have a good idea of what happened in Iowa and elsewhere in the country, from a somewhat biased, but insider's viewpoint.

Where Herding Donkeys falls a little flat is that Berman writes briefly about the post-election developments with Organizing for America, Howard Dean's post-DNC Chair life and some frustrations with the Obama administration and blue dog Democrats. Having done all the research to write the book, what he didn't do was pull everything together to analyze the aftermath of the 2008 campaign more thoroughly. It seemed an abrupt ending, a book that should have had one more chapter.

All things considered, read Ari Berman's Herding Donkeys, especially if you were involved with 2004-2010 election cycles, and if you followed the rise of Howard Dean, Democracy for America and Organizing for America.

Thanks for reading this review.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost as Hard as Herding Cats
Subtitled "The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics," it is primarily a history of the significance of Howard Dean in the recent developments... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Barbara Frederick
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are a political junkie, you'll love this.
Kind of like "Game Change", but more historical and instructive. I carried it around and read a few pages at a time waiting for appointments, etc. Enjoyed it!
Published 13 months ago by olmamma
4.0 out of 5 stars Politics
If you want to know how political campaigns are managed from the grass roots, you'll enjoy the account of the work of Gov. Howard Dean in the Democrat Party. Read more
Published 19 months ago by J. Duran
5.0 out of 5 stars What I Didn't Know
I'm a Democrat but out of it. I didn't know Howard Dean headed the DNC. In fact, I was confusing the DNC and the DLC. I discovered I am completely in agreement with Howard Dean.
Published 23 months ago by Rod
2.0 out of 5 stars Obama 2008 Campaign Redux
If you are liberal/Democrat and totally outraged by what Obama has done since being elected then this book is not for you. Read more
Published on October 30, 2011 by PaulArt
3.0 out of 5 stars Is this as good as it gets?
HERDING DONKEYS: THE FIGHT TO REBUILD THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY AND RESHAPE AMERICAN POLITICS makes me want to yell Jack Nicholson's great rhetorical question, "Is this as good as it... Read more
Published on December 6, 2010 by J. L LaRegina
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!!!
I was very excited and moved reading a political book that truly shows how passionate people CAN make a change. Read more
Published on December 2, 2010 by Amber S.
3.0 out of 5 stars History repeating itself
Interesting read. Jimmy Carter did what Dean did and if you look around carefully you will see others doing some of the same things. Must be that political consultants read also
Published on November 5, 2010 by upstate york stater
5.0 out of 5 stars It's kind of a love letter to Howard Dean
But a well deserved love letter! Great read. Very interesting analysis of all the grass roots organizing that brought us the pleasure of '08. Read more
Published on October 27, 2010 by good time johnny
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
As an international student here in the US,hearing Ari Berman discuss his book on the website Herding Donkeys.com,inspired me to buy a copy. Read more
Published on October 21, 2010 by Reshmi
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